Exhibition Visit – Grayson Perry: ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’

Last weekend I made a brief trip to Bath to catch Grayson Perry’s ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ exhibition on it’s last day at the Victoria Art Gallery before it moves on to Coventry, and I’m so glad I did. I’d been thinking of seeing it for a while and then suddenly discovered it was about to end that Sunday so thought since I had the day free I was just going to have to go. I’d purposely tried to avoid reading too much about it or looking at many photos before going so as not to spoil the experience which I feel was a good move as it allowed me to get properly immersed in the story Perry tells. So for that reason I’m also not going to say too much about what the exhibition is about here and have just included an image of one of the six tapestries below.

The Vanity of Small Differences

The one thing that truly amazed me was the attention to detail and incredible amount of thought and consideration Perry has put into each piece. This can probably be said for most of his work in fact but until you see it up close in it’s incredibly large scale I don’t think you really appreciate that fully. Some parts made me laugh and others made me sad, he really takes you through a story and makes you realise just how fraught with connotations every tiny object in our world is. The exhibition illustrates this so well and made me realise just how much weight the role of design has in our culture. As a textile designer I was also very interested by his choice of medium to portray these pieces, especially having done some jacquard weaving myself during university. Tapestry is such an ancient craft with it’s medieval origins making it such a perfect choice to fit with Perry’s influences and the story-telling dynamic of the show, only cleverly reapplied to modern day using modern technique.

So having been a little unsure whether or not to go to the exhibition to begin with I wanted to write this post to say to anyone considering seeing it during the rest of it’s tour through Coventry, Worcester and Canterbury that you should! I’m so pleased that I did. You can see full details of where it will be on the British Council for Visual Arts website here.